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Chapter Twelve: Black Magic Revealed !!?#! 
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Post Chapter Twelve: Black Magic Revealed !!?#!
MM12 Black Magic Revealed !!?#!
The most stupendous, astounding, magically real events occur in this chapter, which provides the image used on the cover of the translation I read.
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The poor unfortunate fellow whom the black cat has attacked, artfully if only temporarily separating his head from his body, is Mr George Bengalsky, compere in Moscow’s Variety Theatre. As those will know who have read this book, or at least are following our conversation here, Satan, in the form of the mysterious stranger Woland, has tricked the Theatre into allowing him to put on a black magic performance.

The magic tricks by Satan and his snaggle toothed henchman and anthropic henchcat are well beyond the ability of Penn and Teller to explain. The ability to magically conjure large quantities of believable money and clothes from nothing, and a chair too, is surprising. As is their rather distasteful and embarrassing knowledge of the private peccadillos of audience members. Luckily we the readers are in in on the secret that this knowledge is Satanic.

But the head caper takes the cake. Bengalsky’s boring mistake was to say that Satan could explain his tricks. That prompts fury from the wicked black cat Behemoth, including the temporary removal and reattachment, including cleaning up all the copious quantity of blood spurting from the unfortunate Bengalsky’s neck, as already briefly described.

This chapter is definitely the climax of the book so far. Again though, the satirical dimension gives it pique and spice. The meaning of the parable is that the communists present themselves to the Russian people as astounding magicians who can conjure clothes and money from nothing. That naturally is an enormously popular ability, especially in the quantities of goods and cash available to Satan.

As for the head caper, the meaning seems to be that the Russian people lost their heads in allowing the Bolsheviks to usurp power, but the usurpers quickly reattached the severed skulls, allowing the audience to see what was really happening, albeit in a way that was not quite the same as before.


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Harry Marks
Mon Dec 18, 2017 5:30 am
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Post Re: Chapter Twelve: Black Magic Revealed !!?#!
There are some interesting parallels to the story of Jesus. Jesus fed the multitude, but this was probably known to be an image for sharing among ordinary people in a koinonia practice. The Party, by contrast, forces production and refuses to be accountable for where it came from.

The man who thought he had authority to declare that the Party would give an account of its tricks is decapitated, which is not exactly like being crucified but rather hearkens to revolutions, but then is resuscitated "to pacify the crowd." A different action and reaction than Resurrection by a long shot.

Yet another call for accountability (especially of the production of copious amounts of money) by a puppet authority figure leads to the exposure of his private sins (sexual harassment, we would say today - casting couch exploitation). This is also a vile parody of the forgiveness called for when Jesus said "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."

As usual, people's reactions are much more interesting than the maneuvers of power. The crowd is intimidated at first, but cannot resist the temptation of the goods, for example. They are shocked and the women lead the calls for mercy on the decapitated one, but the same women refuse to be left out of the finery and other goods on offer. A rather jaundiced view of the lower classes as "womanish."



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Robert Tulip
Fri Dec 22, 2017 12:22 pm
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